All senior care websites have a story to tell about the business. Page content should be supplemented with design that leads visitors through this story and convinces them to take action.
Great content lies at the heart of every good design. Giant hero images, complex animations and brilliant illustrations cannot by themselves support a site that does not have anything interesting to say.
For any number of reasons, content can become an afterthought. Maybe the project is rushed, or some elements are particularly complex, taking up too much mental space. Sloppy content can have consequences, however, causing users to abandon your site or lose trust in your senior care business.
Here are four things that will help ensure your website’s design helps your content shine.
Many things go into making a website readable. Making a website readable also means making it scannable. Almost no one reads a website fully, top to bottom, left to right. Visitors scan, looking for relevant bits of information. To help them, pay attention to the following:
Scannability: As stated earlier, website visitors do not read pages; they scan them. This means that while people will generally start at the top of the page, their eyes then jump from spot to spot, looking for items that stand out or that may be relevant to the information they are looking for. People tend to read headlines first, then skip whole blocks of content. They will read the first sentence of a paragraph, or just the first few words of a sentence, before determining whether to read on.
Because of this, copy must be broken into scannable bits. An ideal paragraph will contain only two to three sentences, and paragraphs will be broken up with headlines or sub-headlines. Bullet points are also a good way to supplement long spans of copy, as are pull quotes or graphics. Use textual elements strategically to draw readers’ attention to your most important points.
When everything on the page is the same size, nothing stands out. Readers rely on a website to create a hierarchy that tells them what is most important and what they should pay attention to.
People visit senior care websites for a variety of reasons, most of which are informational. It is your website’s job to lead visitors to what they are looking for, with a hierarchy of design that prompts them to action. Larger design elements should be the most important, and elements should scale down as they become less important. Your primary call to action, for example, should be prominent, clearly showing visitors what is the action they should take.
Readers also rely on hierarchy to establish rules for navigating a site. Buttons, for example, should always look the same, as should links and headlines. Consistency creates a pattern that makes pages easier to consume and sites easier to navigate.
Do not overdo design
Each piece of your website’s design should exist because it serves a purpose. Legitimately, that purpose may be to get a user’s attention. Illustrations, animations, drop shadows and subtle motion effects all serve to direct visitors’ attention and can be effective when used sparingly.
When building website elements, always ask why. Would a piece of information, for example, be better represented by a graphic or slideshow? Would that keep the user engaged? If the answer is yes, use the design. If you cannot think of a good reason for a design element’s existence, leave it out. Too many bells and whistles prevent visitors from seeing your site clearly.
Invest in graphics
Out-of-date or low-resolution pictures are an instant turn off. Just one can stand out, causing people to concentrate on the thing that is wrong rather than all the elements that may be right. When choosing graphics for a website, make sure they are up to date, but not trendy. The hipster beard, for example, has made its way into many stock collections, and it will instantly date any website that uses it. Make sure your website is modern and that it has staying power.
Senior care businesses can benefit from professional photography. When you hire a photographer, you will receive a custom, high-resolution archive of photographs that can be used to showcase your agency’s personality and connect with clients. You can always sprinkle some stock into your collection as well.
When preparing graphics for the web, always make sure to do the following:
Check your resolution: Screen technology has come a long way, and some visitors will be viewing your site on high-resolution retina monitors — monitors that can easily expose flaws in image resolution. Make sure all graphics are large enough to fit into the space assigned to them without being stretched or distorted. If a picture does not have the resolution needed for the space required, leave it out. Having no picture is better than having a poor quality one.
Optimize images: Many visitors will also be viewing your site on mobile devices. All images should be optimized, or compressed, to the smallest file size possible.
While testing is not a design trick, it is essential. It can be easy to overlook website fundamentals, like checking for broken links or having a visible phone number on every page. These small things are big trust builders — or busters. Here is a quick testing checklist:
- Links: Do all menu, on-page and button links function? If you use WordPress as your content management system, you can use a plugin like Broken Link Checker to crawl your site for broken links.
- Speed: Do your pages load quickly? Google has a PageSpeed Insights testing tool. The tool will both rate your site’s speed and give you tips for how to improve load times.
- Responsiveness: Does your site adapt to all screen sizes? Some visitors will see your site on a number of different devices, and the experience should always be consistent.
- Basic on-site SEO: Does your site have title tags and meta descriptions? Does it contain schema markup that identifies important elements like reviews and phone numbers? Do your images have alt tags? These are all items your development team should be paying close attention to.
- Analytics: Do you have a way to monitor performance?
- Browser testing: Is your site free of errors on all major browsers?
- Third-party applications: Are the necessary connections made between your site and third-party services?
- Calls to action: Are they present? Are they obvious?
- 404 pages: Sometimes, even with the best testing, links will break. In these cases, you need a well-designed 404 page. A 404 page should give the user the opportunity to search for what they were looking for, and if possible suggest alternative content. Never let a visitor hit a dead end.
Your senior care website’s design can help you stand out and earn trust with visitors and potential clients if it works in harmony with your content. When you take the time to attend to the details of your typography, image quality and space, you help build a good user experience where the whole really is greater than the sum of its parts.